We had the good fortune of connecting with Schetauna Powell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Schetauna, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I entered the professional art world around 2007 when I was an undergraduate student minoring in Studio Art at the University of Houston. At that time I found myself feeling alienated because there were not many people of color in my studio art classes. It was only during my post graduate career as a teaching artist at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston that I found out that there is a lack of participation in creative fields among African Americans of all ages. In the early days when I began organizing through Artivism Community Art I found myself having deep conversations with the community wherin I learned that this lack of participation in the arts was a result of a fear to be vulnerable. Their experiences have lead them to this fear, which ultimately I learned contributes to the mental health crises in our community. Learning this deeply saddened me because a large amount of African American culture is located within the arts. By public education divesting in the arts, Black students are denied crucial access to interdisciplinary and creative tracks. The total sum of these circumstances leads to instability in our communities, because the United Nations criteria for sustainable development in healthy communities is the participation in one’s own culture. So then I asked my self, what is my role as an artist-educator if not to advocate and organize opportunities for my community to participate in the creation of cultural art? In this way I began to understand art activism, also known as Artivism, as the means by which I encourage active participation in the study and creation of art where our people’s traditional knowledge and political struggle in the New World are concerned.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Artivism Community Art is unique because we utilize artwork to teach cultural perspectives through interactive/hands on learning in Houston. We are only able to grow as a business through our relationships with our community. We aim for every community to create their own system of learning through cultural art projects. While that statement sounds simple enough, we are only successful as a result of our rigorous study and practice. We are excited to do the work to create K-12 resources utilizing a Black Studies epistemology that is both interactive and relational. We view education as a vehicle to be creative. We recognize the challenge in the work is to create safe spaces wherein our practice can be self-empowering. Along the way we have learned that in order to meet the needs of a diverse community we also have to be flexible and mobile so that we can help artists of every level and age grow. I want the world to know that education can be revolutionary and through collective action our own communities can help grow the radical Black imagination; all you gotta do is participate!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Houston, though it is a car town, is very walk-able. If my friends and family wanted to have a good time I would simply go on a walking tour of Houston. We would have something to do every day. We could check out the myriad of graffiti murals throughout the city and take epic pictures on the first day of the week. By the middle of the week we could find all of the folk art locations (such as The Orange Show). Around the weekend we could do a bicycle tour of 3rd Ward with Tour de Hood and as my friends and family got ready to leave we could eat at the Turkey Leg Hut or The Breakfast Klub. By the end of it we will have eaten good, exercised our bodies, connected with the community, and supported Black businesses in the Houston area. That’s sounds like a good time to me!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Artivism Community Art gives thanks to the following individuals, community institutions and ancestors who provide a path for us to do our work: African-American Studies Department at The University of Houston Thank you to the knowledge I received and helping me understand revolutionary activism takes many forms Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School Thank you for teaching me how to create a communal cultural practice. Thank you for allowing me to witness a communal cultural education practice that connects activism with education Dr. Joy Carew Thank you for chairing my thesis. Your guidance has projected my Life Work journey. Ella Baker Thank you for being the architect of arts activism Pan African Studies Department at The University of Louisville Thank you to everyone I met while completing my Master’s degree who are working to fight perceived white supremacy and living their purpose. It has led me to find my purpose. Reynaldo Anderson For an intellectual paradigm that guides, instructs and uplifts the work we do
Other: We are a community of artists whose mission is to teach cultural perspectives through art. By joining Artivism Community Art you are actively advocating for the health of the Black community. Help us accomplish our mission by joining the community. https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?u=10390804
Victoria Cooke Kenan Taylor Maati Ra